Elegant Bamboo Cooking Tools

Available at Wal-Mart for about three dollars, these ultra-useful, sturdy cook’s implements are made from bamboo.  Each white mesh bag contains five bamboo spatulas and spoons. At that price, it may be wise to purchase two packs of them.

M-J’s Elegant Eggs Vienna: 3 Sources of Protein and Choline

M-J's Eggs Vienna First Recipe for Eggs Vienna on the Internet, by M-J de Mesterton 2006

M-J’s Original Eggs Vienna


M-J de Mesterton’s Eggs Vienna Recipe

This Dish Features Three Sources of Choline

An old friend of mine used to make this dish for me in the 1970s. I had published my recipe for the unusual breakfast offering on Elegant Survival in 2006; it was for a long time the only recipe for Eggs Vienna on the internet. I shall reconstruct it here at Elegant Cuisine:

Eggs Vienna for Two

Prepare four slices of streaky American-style bacon until they are crisp. Poach two eggs in two cups of boiling milk, until they are soft. Toast two slices of white bread or English muffins, then butter them. When all three components are ready, place one piece of  toast in each of  two soup-bowls. Place two slices of  bacon on top of each piece of toast, then top that with a poached egg. Pour the remaining hot milk, in which the eggs have been poached, into each bowl.

Eggs, Bacon and Milk are Good Sources of Choline, which, when Ingested by Pregnant Women,  Contributes to the Intelligence of Babies, and for Everyone Else, It Helps to Prevent Heart Disease

Choline on FoodistaCholine

Eggs, Nature’s Perfect Food

Eggs don’t cause heart disease, as the medical industry previously believed. And here is more good news: a research team at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge determined that women on a weight-loss regimen who ate an egg with toast and jelly each morning lost twice as many pounds as those who had a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories without the accompanying egg.

Huevos, by Spanish Court Painter Diego Velásquez




Eggs are nutritious, convenient, useful in thousands of recipes, and are a relatively inexpensive source of high-quality protein.

One large egg, which represents less than 4 percent of the total daily calorie intake of a person who consumes 2000 calories per day, provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for protein, 15 percent of the Daily Value for riboflavin, and 4 percent or more of the Daily Value for several other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6 and B12; folate; iron; phosphorus; and zinc. Eggs also provide choline, which is  essential in the human diet, and is credited for helping to create healthy babies during pregnancy. Because the percentage of the  recommended  daily amount for many nutrients provided by an egg is greater than the proportion of total calorie intake that the egg represents, the egg more than pulls its weight nutritionally. Most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are found in the yolk; protein, however, is found in both the yolk and the white.

Recent research indicates that egg eaters are more likely than non-egg eaters to have diets that provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients. This seems to be partly due to the nutritional contribution of the eggs themselves and partly due to the fact that the inclusion of eggs in the diet is an indicator of a desirable eating pattern that includes breakfast.

Eggs can be prepared easily, in a variety of ways. They keep well  in the refrigerator for about three weeks, and therefore an individual can easily use up the dozen eggs in a carton before they spoil. Because most egg recipes involve short cooking times, eggs are convenient for the person with little time to prepare meals.

Eggs have several important physical and chemical properties that help make recipes work. They thicken custards, puddings and sauces; emulsify and stabilize mixtures such as mayonnaise and salad dressings; coat or glaze breads and cookies; bind ingredients together in dishes such as meat loaf and lasagne; eggs are used to clarify coffee and soups; retard crystallization in boiled candies and frostings; and leaven some types of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, soufflés, buns and sponge cakes.

Eggs are economical, especially when compared to other high-protein foods. For people who are trying to balance their budgets as well as their diets, serving eggs occasionally instead of meat, poultry, or fish is very economical.

One other  benefit of eggs is that they are a functional food—that is, a food that provides health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition. Eggs contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, two components which are believed to have health benefits.

Choline on FoodistaCholine

Elegant Party “Champagne”: Cristalino Brut from Spain


Cristalino Brut from Spain: Inexpensive Substitute for French Champagne

Available at Cost Plus World Market

Inexpensive Substitute for French Champagne

“Bright green-gold color and aromas of apple, spices, flowers and nuts. Crisp, bright and dry with medium-full body. Intense ginger and apple flavors with nutty and floral nuances. Clean, lemony finish that is quite dry. A pleasure with chicken salad, scampi, filet of sole, brie and fruit desserts. Serve as an aperitif, too.”

Make Your Own Elegant Hamburger Buns

M-J's Home-Made Hamburger Buns, Copyright Elegant Survival 2009
M-J's Home-Made Hamburger Buns, Copyright Elegant Survival 2009

Elegant Hamburger Buns


Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
• 1 and 1/4 cup of warm water (110° to 115°)—hotter water will kill the yeast
• 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (do not use canola oil, which tastes fishy in baked goods; peanut, corn or pure vegetable oils are preferred)
• 1/4 cup of sugar, any variety
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 3 and 1/2 cups of unbleached or all-purpose white flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Then, add the egg, salt, and flour.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead for about four minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed. Form the dough into a ball, cover, and let it rise for ten minutes. Divide the dough into 12 flat, round pieces. Place 3 inches apart on buttered baking sheets.
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake on top oven rack at 400° for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Monitor closely to prevent burning. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. This recipe makes twelve hamburger buns. For dinner rolls, do not flatten but shape your twelve dough pieces into balls.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Elegant Survival 2008


Elegant Survival Food Safety, and Recycling Cake-Covers

Cake and Croissant Container Top from Sam's Club, Recycled as a Food-Safety Tool; This One is Four Years Old!
Cake and Croissant Container Top Made of Thin Plastic, Recycled as a Food-Safety Tool; This One is Four Years Old! Keep flies off your food, in the house or outdoors. These lightweight tops are stackable, washable by hand (not dishwasher-safe), and will protect your family and friends from the awful germs carried by flies and other pests.~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 16th, 2009
M-J's Four-Year-Old Cake Cover, Recycled from Croissant Container (Painting and Photo by M-J de Mesterton)
M-J's Four-Year-Old Cake Cover, Recycled from Croissant Container (Painting and Photo by M-J de Mesterton, Copyright)

What to Do with Over-Ripe Bananas

Over-Ripe Bananas, about to Get a Make-over (photo copyright Elegant Survival)
Over-Ripe Bananas, about to Get a Make-over (photo copyright Elegant Survival)
Ripe Banana Sections,  Ready for Smoothies (Copyright Elegant Survival)
Ripe Banana Sections, Ready to Freeze for Smoothies. M-J's Gardening Tip: Bury the banana peels deep under your rosebush, or add to compost bin. (Copyright Elegant Survival)

Delicious, Economical British Classics Presented by Elaine Lemm

Here are three classic British recipes presented in video form by Elaine Lemm on about.com: the Cornish Pasty (a favourite in my family for four generations, which I made for English-Speaking Union parties at my house many times); Bakewell Tart (invented in Bakewell, England), an elegant dessert, the taste of which  reminds me of Danish pastry; and Irish Colcannon–a vitamin-rich, green-and-white dish that could serve as an economical meal, which contains three vegetables. Note that Ms Lemm crimps her pasties on top. Cornish style dictates that pasties be crimped on their sides.

Versatile Buttermilk Biscuits

M-J's Buttermilk Biscuits and Cheese Biscuits (Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009)
M-J's Buttermilk Biscuits and Cheese Biscuits (Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009)

M-J’s Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

Buttermilk is good for you. When in Scandinavia, we drink it at breakfast-time, as is customary.

If your grocer has stopped carrying buttermilk, insist that he stock it. Alternatively, you may use powdered buttermilk, which is found in the baking section of most food markets.

Why buttermilk? It is not only tasty, but acts as a leavener in pancakes and biscuits. It is said to be good for the gastrointestinal system, and for the skin. Granted, buttermilk is an acquired taste, not popular with many children. I didn’t care for the idea of it until I was an adult. But, if one likes the taste of yogurt, buttermilk ought to appeal.

When baking buttermilk biscuits according to my recipe, which is linked above, I sometimes fold the dough over some shredded Cheddar cheese. These cheese biscuits, shown in the foreground of my photo, are popular at drinks parties.

Cheddar Cheese Stands Alone at Elegant Survival

Cheddar Cheese and Rock Painting by M- de Mesterton, Photo Copyright 2009
Cheddar Cheese and Rock Painting by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright 2009
California Cheddar by Albertson's, Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009
California Cheddar by Albertson's, Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009
My two favourite cheeses are Cheddar (named after the town in England) and Parmesan (named after Parma, Italy). Of course, I am fond of other cheeses from around the world, such as Swedish Farmer’s Cheese, Danish Havarti, Kashkeval, feta, halloumi and brie, but these two cheeses seem to have many more applications.

One of the nice things about Cheddar cheese is its versatility: it is always welcome at a cocktail or drinks party, and melts well for nachos and other American dishes.

The charming host of America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball, also of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, has written about Cheddar cheese in its latest number, and has also conducted a taste-and-quality test of various Cheddars offered in most American supermarkets. I have always depended upon the quality and taste of Tillamook (Oregon) and Cracker Barrel brands. The test results bore out my choices. Another great Cheddar from the U.S.A., available in several western states, is Albertson’s supermarket brand California Cheddar (pictured here), costing about four dollars per pound, a price which is commensurate with that of the two aforementioned selections.

Here is the article about Cheddar cheese from this month’s Cook’s magazine.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

A Possible Weight-Loss Aid in Turmeric

Researchers have determined that laboratory mice given a diet supplemented with curcumin experience a reduction in the formation of fat tissue, and a lowered number of blood-vessels that feed fat. Curcumin is the active ingredient and major polyphenol in the bright yellow spice from India known as turmeric.

The growth and expansion of fat tissues requires new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. In fat tissue, this process is mediated by the secretion of adipokines, such as leptin, adiponectin, resistin, interleukin-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The researchers first investigated the effect of curcumin in cultured human cells to which adipokines had been added to stimulate angiogenesis. They found that the ability of curcumin to inhibit angiogenesis was partly due to the reduced expression of VEGF.
Subsequently, the mice were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with 500 milligrams curcumin per kilogram of food, for three months. Weight-gain was reduced in the mice who were given curcumin. The curcumin-supplemented mice had lower weight and reduced total-body fat. They also had lower liver-weights, and experienced a reduction in VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), indicating reduced risk for angiogenesis.

Also called curcumin, turmeric is a mustard-yellow spice from India. Indians use it more for its healing properties than for taste. Turmeric has an innocuous flavor, and adds color to foods.

In India, turmeric has been revered for its healing properties, and thus is used as a daily dietary supplement. In the Ayurvedic system of health, turmeric has medicinal properties and is an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic. Because of its effects on enzyme related to inflammation, turmeric may have the same mode of action as anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side-effects. Curcumin is used for cuts and burns and is known as an antiseptic/antibacterial. It is also used to remedy stomach-ulcers.

The U.S. National Institues of Health has four clinical trials in progress, involving curcumin as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer. According to a 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Common Indian Spice Stirs Hope,” research activity into curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, is burgeoning. Two-hundred and fifty-six curcumin-study papers were published in 2005, according to a search of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

M-J Recommends Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese

Daisy, the Elegant Survival Cottage Cheese

M-J’s Ideal Cottage Cheese: Daisy

March 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

I’ve been searching for an ideal cottage cheese. I have found it.

Daisy Cottage Cheese from Dallas, Texas–brought to you by the folks who have the largest sour cream plant in the world. The flavor is fresh and clean, with slightly tangy overtones reminiscent of sour cream. Daisy Cottage Cheese is not watery like other brands, therefore, you get more for your money. Pick up a carton of another brand of cottage cheese, shake it near your ear, and you will likely hear it sloshing around in the carton. That does not happen with Daisy. And, unlike other brands, Daisy low-fat cottage cheese tastes as good as their regular variety.  Daisy Brand has a good consistency and few ingredients. I’m fed-up with cottage cheese makers who cheat on volume and quality by adding water and other fillers. Daisy Cottage Cheese is a pure success.

See this page for a distribution map.

~~M-J

The Sonya Apple, an Elegant Survival Favorite

Sonya, Elegant Survival's Ideal Apple (photo copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008)
The Sonya apple originated in New Zealand, and has been internationally available since 2002.  Its unique flavor is owed to its two parent-apples, the Red Delicious and the Gala.The Sonya apple is pleasantly sweet and crisp, with an intense, fresh apple-juice flavor. Sonya apples are perfect for snacks, and the ones available now are small and perfectly shaped for packing in lunches. In my recent experience with Fuji apples, Elegant Survival’s former favorite for pie-making as well as eating, they have become less crisp, juicy and flavorful. Though that anomaly may be only temporary, I intend to make pies with Sonya apples henceforth. M-J’s Fuji Salad will now be called “Sonya Salad”–stay tuned for the recipe.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, March 2009

Pistachio, Magic Nut from the Near East

In honor of National Pistachio Day, here is a piece I wrote about the magic nut two years ago:

Pistachios are the new health nut. Research from the University of Toronto shows that they may reduce the risk of diabetes by decreasing the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. “Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fat,” explains study author Cyril Kendall, PhD, “all of which contribute to the slowing of carbohydrate absorption in the body.”

Pistachios are delicious roasted and salted, as well as in desserts and pastries. In the U.S., pistachio-studded halvah was once only available in Brooklyn’s Middle Eastern neighborhood–I used to buy it on the famous Atlantic Avenue–but it can now be found at markets around the U.S. Of course, the ever-popular baklava-type pastries from Turkey and Persia, where pistachios originate, usually contain them mixed with aromatic honey.

Research has shown that eating 2 to 3 ounces of pistachios a day can help significantly raise your level of good cholesterol (HDL). Pistachios are full of vitamin B6 and copper, too, which help to increase your energy.

Pistachios salted and unshelled are available at a good price from Sam’s Club. I cannot remember the brand-name–it could be Sunkist–in any case, they are Californian. They’re delightfully easy to eat as a snack, and most welcome on party buffets. For baking, try to find unsalted varieties of these magic nuts.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007